Books

 
 
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This Extraordinary Moment

"The realization that there is no explanation for existence or awareness of existence is ultimate liberation. John Astin's book offers an opportunity for this liberation, if you are ready."  —Deepak Chopra

“This book has the power to transform lives.” —Shauna Shapiro, author of The Art and Science of Mindfulness

Anyone who attempts to describe what is ultimately indescribable faces the same challenge—how does one use words to explain something that transcends language? Many writers fall into the trap of using more words to do the job that most words aren’t even particularly suited for, the ideas growing ever more allusive and abstract as the verbiage piles up. But in trying to unmoor the essence of lived experience from the concepts and stories we use to construct it, author and spiritual teacher John Astin takes a different approach—using fewer words instead of more, and grounding them with exercises designed to evoke the actual experience of what he’s describing.

Evoking the true nature of experience in words is a tricky proposition: perceptual reality has no beginning and no end, making it impossible to delineate, and what arises internally as thoughts and feelings are equally limitless, indeterminate, and unresolvable. While we have countless ways to categorize, conceptualize, and label things, the truth of whatever is being felt, seen, tasted, touched, or heard is infinitely more complex and multidimensional than our conceptual or linguistic structures would have us believe. By becoming more intimate with experience itself—rather than trying to narrate, avoid, or escape it—we can begin to discover that our experiences cannot possibly limit us in the ways we’ve imagined, owing to their radically open-ended and ultimately indefinable nature.

This Extraordinary Moment invites you on a journey of boundless inquiry, which becomes a liberating free-fall into the mysteries that lie just beyond our understanding of lived reality—which words can never quite describe. Built entirely around personal experience and exploration, this book provides activities, dialogues, exercises, and meditations to help you unlearn the basic misapprehensions about the nature of moment-to-moment experience, and shows you how to gain distance from the stories you tell about what you’re experiencing, so as to better focus on what’s actually happening in the present moment.

With ultrashort chapters grounded in experiential practices, and without the use of the usual spiritual jargon, this fast-moving, highly readable book makes the esoteric accessible to all—from anyone interested in stress management, well-being, or positive psychology to the devoted spiritual seeker.

 
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Searching for Rain in a Monsoon

We search for some other moment, a moment we imagine will be more fulfilling, more profound, more free, more meaningful… And yet, it is only when we demand something from this moment, when we imagine what’s here is somehow not quite enough, that we experience this heartache of incompleteness and then set about to find its resolution. But we have another choice than to live this way. We can experiment with another possibility, the possibility that this moment, exactly as it is, is actually enough.

In Searching for Rain in a Monsoon, we are invited through a series of meditations and inquiries into an exploration of this possibility, that this moment is the miracle we’ve been seeking. After all, the fact that this moment even exists at all is truly beyond comprehension. Without asking or demanding anything from our momentary experience, without insisting it be better, more profound, more fulfilling, or more anything, we can discover a depth and profundity, a richness and fulfillment that has always been here—here, in this very instant, the only one we will ever have.

 
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This Is Always Enough

This Is Always Enough is an invitation, an invitation to abandon, even for one instant, all teachers and teachings, to let go of all spiritual injunctions and practices and simply meet what appears in each moment with no guidance, no maps, no reference points to tell us what is true or how we must live. In this book, John invites the reader to inquire, "What is this moment, this life like when I cease to locate myself in or identify with any conceptual framework, philosophy or religion — not Buddha's, not Jesus', not anyone's? What is it like to live with no fixed conclusions or ideas, to cease to refer to any notion in the mind about who I am or how this moment is to be lived?" In this beautiful book of simple, Zen-like poems, essays, and aphorisms, John relentlessly points the reader back to the reality that while we seek God, there is really no escaping God for there is only God, only Truth, only Life, appearing as everything that is seen, everything that is touched, everything that is heard. While we search for "something else," some other moment or experience that will make us happy, this book reminds us that there can be no other moment, that this is all there is, all there can ever be. And when we stop looking elsewhere for the miracle, the miracle will be revealed to be everything. It will be seen, right now, that the happiness and freedom that was sought was never somewhere else but always right here, as this — this experience, this state of mind, this very moment. Every breath, every sensation, the clarity, the confusion, the seeking, and the end of seeking, all of them God, all of them the Truth, all of them enough...

 

Too Intimate for Words

In the dedication for Too Intimate for Words, John Astin writes: "These words and concepts are dedicated to the Divine Mystery that cannot be spoken of, but is the source of every utterance." The great spiritual teacher Ramana Maharshi once remarked that just as one may use a thorn to remove another thorn from his hand, so too can we use concepts and words to point us beyond them. This is the spirit and essence of  "Too Intimate for Words," a book of poetry and prose that invites readers to remember what in truth has never really been forgotten. As John writes in one passage: “Wake up! You are the Beloved feasting on Itself, the wave remembering that it has always been water.” About this book, best-selling author and spiritual teacher, Joan Borysenko writes: “John Astin is a modern-day Rumi. His words are a window to the Absolute, a transmission of wisdom carrying the presence, joy, and clarity of an authentic teacher.”